France labor requirements

Employment relations in France are largely regulated by the French Labor Code, which is also known as Code du Travail.

Collective bargaining agreements are another major source of employment regulation in France. These are written agreements made with unions or trade associations that apply on either a local, regional, or national level.

Replicon offers a default, configurable pay rule that allows you to easily meet French labor law requirements that apply at the national level. Note that our out-of-the-box solution doesn’t cover regulations defined by collective bargaining agreements.

Hours and pay regulations

Normal working hours

Working time may be calculated on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis.

For more senior employees, working hours may be based on a number of working days per year, with a maximum of 218 days.

Absolute maximum work hours

Employees may not work beyond the following absolute maximum limits, including overtime:

  • 10 hours per day, excluding breaks; 13 total hours per day, including breaks (exceptions to this may be made in certain specific cases, such as during a temporary increase in business activity)
  • 48 hours in a week
  • An average of 44 hours over any 12 consecutive weeks. For example, the employee works 40 hours a week for six weeks, then 48 for the next six weeks. (This 44 hour limit may be increased to 46 hours in certain circumstances).

These regulations apply to all companies, irrespective of how many workers they employ. High-level executives are typically not subject to working time limitations.


When employees work more than 6 hours a day, they are entitled to a rest break of at least 20 minutes. More favorable provisions may be granted through a collective bargaining agreement.


Any time worked above 35 hours per week or 1,607 hours per year is considered overtime. Employees are entitled to additional compensation and, in some instances, paid leave for overtime hours worked.

Exceptions exist which allow for working beyond the standard working hours limitation.

Compensation by premium pay

The first eight overtime hours (generally hours 36 to 43):

  • If there’s no collective bargaining agreement, a 25 percent overtime premium applies
  • If there is a collective bargaining agreement, the premium therein applies, and must match or exceed the legal minimum of 10 percent of the employee's hourly pay.

Any additional overtime hours (generally hours 44 to 48):

  • If there’s no collective bargaining agreement, a 50 percent overtime premium applies
  • If there is a collective bargaining agreement, the premium defined therein applies, with a legal minimum of 10 percent of the employee's hourly pay. 

Compensation by leave of absence

A paid leave of absence may be taken in lieu of overtime premium pay. Pay must equal the overtime premium, at the rate it was earned. For example, 25 or 50 percent. This replacement must be authorized by:

  • The company or industry collective bargaining agreement, or
  • The employer, in companies with no union presence and who are not subject to the annual negotiation requirement

Paid leave of absence is mandatory when overtime exceeds 220 hours per year. This leave is granted to employees working overtime hours in addition to the premium paid.

It should equal:

  • In companies with less than 20 employees, 50 percent of each hour worked above the annual cap
  • In companies with more than 20 employees, 100 percent of each hour worked above the annual cap

Night and evening work

Night work

‘Night work’ is defined as work performed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Employees may work a maximum of eight ‘night work’ hours per 24-hour period, to a maximum weekly average (over 12 weeks) of 40 hours

Night work must be authorized by a collective bargaining agreement which must provide financial consideration and/or paid leave for night work performed

An employee may ask to work during the day or refuse to perform night work if it is incompatible with ‘pressing family obligations’. Such a refusal is not a valid cause for dismissal

Evening work

‘Evening work’ is work performed between 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. for qualifying retail businesses that are authorized to stay open during those hours

Employees working qualifying shifts receive at least double compensation for those hours, special transportation when leaving work, and other benefits

Public holidays

There are 11 public holidays in France, with some regions of the country celebrating additional holidays as well. May 1st (Labor Day) is the only holiday classified as a statutory (paid) holiday in France; An employee who works on Labor Day must be paid at double his or her normal rate of pay.

Official national holidays must be given as days off for those under 18 years of age or who work in Alsace-Moselle. Most collective bargaining agreements provide for days off on public holidays.

Employee leave regulations

Annual leave

The minimum paid annual leave after one year of employment is five weeks. Amounts are prorated for employees who have been employed for less than one year.

Mandatory paid annual leave accrues at the rate of 2.5 working days per month, up to a maximum of 30 working days. This duration may be increased by collective bargaining agreement (for example, based on years of service).

The right to paid annual leave is acquired during a reference period starting on June 1 and ending on May 30.

Sick leave

Paid sick leave is paid partly by France’s Social Security Health System and partly by the employer. Employees are entitled to sick pay from the first day of absence if it is a work-related accident or illness, and after the eighth day of absence in all other cases.

Payment during sick leave depends on the length of employment with the company and the length of the absence. If sick leave lasts longer than 30 days, the employee must undergo a medical examination before returning to work.

Maternity leave

Employees are entitled to a minimum of 16 weeks maternity leave, at least 10 weeks of which must be taken after the child is born.

The employee is not obliged to take the entire leave, but employers are prohibited from employing a woman for a total of eight weeks before and after she gives birth.

Maternity leave suspends the employment contract. Although there is no legal requirement to pay employees who are on maternity leave, collective bargaining agreements often require employers to provide employees with paid maternity leave.

Paternity leave

A father is entitled to three days of leave for the birth of his child. In addition, a father is entitled to 11 consecutive days of paternity leave, to be taken within four months after the birth (or adoption) of his child. In the case of multiple births or birth-related health problems, the duration of leave is increased to 18 days.

Paternity leave suspends the employment contract. Employers  have no obligation to pay employees who are on paternity leave unless required to do so by an applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Parental leave

Parental leave entitlement is one year, but that duration may be extended up until three years of age. Both parents may take advantage of this leave, either simultaneously or alternately.

Employees can take parental leave or request to work part-time. Although parental leave is unpaid, benefits are provided through France’s social security system. An employer may not refuse a parental leave request if the employee has at least one year of service with the employer on the date of birth or adoption. 

Educational leave

Educational leave is used to pursue additional training which is not otherwise employer sponsored. Eligible employees include those who have been working in their field for at least 24 months, 12 of which have been with their current employer. 

Business creation leave

An employee who sets up or takes over a business is entitled to either a leave of absence or part-time employment, each for a period of one year.

This leave may be extended for one additional year. Employees are required have at least 24 months' service with their employer.

Mobility leave

Employees with at least two years' service (whether successive or not) are permitted, with the consent of their employer, to work for a different company for a fixed duration.

Redeployment leave

This type of leave allows the employee to benefit from training and job search programs. Employers (with at least 1,000 employees) who have entered into workforce planning agreements related to dismissal of an employee for economic reasons (GPEC) must offer redeployment leave.

Redeployment leave is granted for a minimum of four and a maximum of 12 months, and takes place during the notice period. The notice period begins when the employee has been notified of the termination, and continues as long as the employment contract remains in force. The employer may waive the employee’s obligation to work during this period, but they must still be paid.